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Right Ear Advantage

December 18, 2017

The right ear listens and comprehends slightly better than the left.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Right ear bias. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Children are better at listening and grasping what they hear through their right ear than their left ear. That’s because the right ear sends sounds directly to the left side of the brain, where speech is processed, but signals going into the left ear have to be transferred to the right ear first.

DANIELLE SACCHINELLI (Auburn University):

So the left ear makes an extra step in terms of processing speech and language, so that’s where the right ear advantage comes from.

HIRSHON:

Auburn University audiologist Danielle Sacchinelli says researchers thought the discrepancy disappeared in adolescence.

SACCHINELLI:

That’s where we see the right ear advantage close.

HIRSHON:

But a new study suggests that it re-emerges in adults when given a difficult cognitive task –  like remembering a string of numbers in order. The work could help shed light on auditory processing disorders. Sacchinelli presented the research at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard